Do you happen to remember Jynx, Robert De Niro’s tomcat in Meet the Parents? It’s been more than twenty years since the movie aired, but this toilet-trained cat might still be cracking you up — although he “can’t lift the seat” because he “lacks the strength and the opposable thumbs”.
Back in the 2000s, you may have found the idea of toilet training your kitty pretty weird. Now, however, you find yourself considering it. So, can you train a cat to use the toilet? If so, what would the pros and cons of that be? Stick around to find out.
Can You Train a Cat to Use the Toilet?
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You might be tired of changing your cat’s litter box every single day. And your cat’s habit of scattering clay all around the place might be equally bothersome. If that’s the case, it has probably occurred to you to teach your kitty to use the toilet. After all, that would save you the trouble of constantly cleaning after your furry friend.
But is toilet training a cat even possible? Lucky for you, it is. Still, you’ll find there are some pros and cons to doing so. And, you’ll need to consider some relevant factors.
Things to Consider Before Toilet Training Your Cat
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1. Do You Think Your Cat Will Cooperate?
You must already know just how difficult it is to teach your kitty new tricks. Unlike dogs, cats don’t enjoy following our orders — quite the contrary. So, the only way in which your cat would cooperate is by getting bribed. Do you have catnip or any other favorite treat of theirs at your fingertips?
Also, your toilet training situation might depend on your kitty’s unique personality. Is your cat naturally inquisitive and likes challenges? Or is your furry friend only after 24/7 naps and food? You’ll see how older, less vital cats might not be in the mood to change their toilet habits.
2. Do You Think Your Family Will Cooperate?
Another factor to consider is the behavior of the people you live with. Would they be patient enough until your cat learns how to use the toilet? Do you think they would also help you clean after your cat in the beginning? Or would they not care about any of it?
You might also need to advise your family to leave the bathroom door open at all times. Otherwise, your kitty might urinate elsewhere. And somebody will also have to take on the job of flushing the toilet when you’re not around. But as you’ll see, your cat might be able to do that, too.
So, do you think your cat will end up learning to use the toilet and even flush? Before we delve deeper into that, let’s see about the benefits and downsides of toilet training your kitty.
Pros of Toilet Training Your Cat
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1. You and Your Family Won’t Be Exposed to Parasites
Have you heard about toxoplasmosis? As a cat owner, there are some things you should know about this infectious disease. It stems from a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii that lives inside your cat’s bowels for about two weeks. Then, it leaves the cat’s organism through feces that ends up in your cat’s litter box.
So, if your kitty has been a host for this parasite, its litter will now be full of T. gondii eggs. This way, you’re very likely to get infected when cleaning your cat’s litter. You might even develop some severe symptoms like encephalitis, and your pregnancy might be compromised.
On the other hand, if the cat uses your bathroom, you can always flush the parasites down the toilet.
2. It’s Cheaper Than Litter
You already know just how costly keeping a pet might be. Especially if your buddy enjoys more than a couple of snacks a day, you might already be struggling to make ends meet. Luckily, cats aren’t that into expensive toys — quite the opposite. Surprise them with a plastic bag or a box, and they’ll be good to go.
However, your cat’s litter toilet might be the one draining your wallet. Depending on the exact type of litter you’re using, you might be paying $200-480 a year. On the other hand, water is much less expensive. Even if you have to flush after your cat more than once a day, it will still pay off.
3. You’ll Get Rid of Dusty Clay
You probably haven’t thought much about what cat litter is made of. It contains dusty clay that can cause respiratory problems in your cat. Also, litter is potentially carcinogenic for both cats and people. Because of that, switching from a litter box to a toilet would prove better for everyone’s health.
This way, you’ll also manage to keep the place much cleaner. There won’t be any more clay pieces messing up your carpets. And, more importantly, the stench after your cat has done their business won’t linger around. Overall, you’ll be looking at a cleaner and safer place for your family, your pets, and yourself.
Cons of Toilet Training Your Cat
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1. Your Cat’s Behavior Might Change
When it comes to toilet training your cat, you should consider just how attached cats are to their litter boxes. Much like dogs, your feline friends also love to mark their territory. Sorry to break it to you, but some people even say that cats get used to places, not people. So, when you take away its scent marks, your kitty might end up feeling confused.
As a result, it can also start behaving differently than usual. You may even see your cat openly protesting about being forced to do their business in your toilet. Your pet might end up urinating and defecating all over your place. It can also start spraying your toilet seat, scratching it, or throwing stuff inside the toilet.
2. Your Toilet Might Not Be the Cleanest of Places
You’ve already seen how your kitty’s behavior can change when you force it to use the toilet — toilet seat spraying included. But the truth is, this can also happen involuntarily. Your cat might not have the best aim in the beginning, and its pee might get everywhere. Because of that, your toilet won’t be as sanitary as it used to be.
So, it’s necessary to advise your family on how to behave when this happens. At least in the first couple of weeks, someone will need to clean up all the mess your cat will make. We’re talking about stuff like flushing and disinfecting the toilet seat/lid. Also, you might need to pick up all the dirt your cat brings inside your bathroom, including its shedded fur.
3. It Would Be Difficult to Tell Whether Your Cat’s Sick
When it comes to your pet’s health, this is arguably the most important thing to consider. You might already know that you can tell when there’s something wrong with your kitty just by inspecting its feces.
By simply looking at their litter box, you can know whether your pet has diarrhea. You might also find out that your cat hasn’t defecated at all in a long time.
Based on your little discovery, you can decide if your kitty needs to see a vet. On the other hand, you won’t have such privileges with a toilet-trained cat. You won’t be able to examine their feces that easily, or even at all. For that reason, litter might sound like a more beneficial alternative.
4. But What about the Environment?
Now that you know how toilet training your cat affects your household, let’s see what it does to the environment. For starters, it seems better than the widely-used clumping cat litter.
That’s because this litter isn’t biodegradable, which means it only enables further pollution. Also, even collecting the materials needed for clay and crystal litter harms vegetation.
However, things aren’t all that black-and-white. The gray area is that flushing your cat’s feces down the toilet might negatively impact the environment, too. Once again, toxoplasmosis is to blame, as well as the country’s sewage policies. If your cat’s infected excrement from your toilet go directly to rivers, aquatic life might be in danger.
The only way you can avoid this is to keep your feline friend indoors. That’s because your cat won’t be at risk of catching this parasite, and its feces should be safe.
To protect the environment, you can also opt for biodegradable litter made from recycled paper or corn. However, you should know that the more environmentally friendly the litter is, the more expensive it gets.
Are you still up for toilet training your fluffy pet? If so, here’s how you can do it.
How to Toilet Train Your Cat
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The first thing you need to know about toilet training your kitty is that it will be time-consuming. Your cat might not be able to forget about its beloved litter that quickly. So, at least at first, giving your cat both options might prove beneficial. You’ll end up saving some money, and your cat will enjoy the luxury of having two bathrooms.
Then, you can move your pet’s litter box to the spot right next to the toilet. This way, your feline friend would feel at home in their new bathroom. After that, you might need to lift the litter box gradually to a somewhat higher position. Keep doing that until it reaches the level of your toilet seat.
Try moving your cat’s litter closer to the toilet each day. Finally, put the litter box over the toilet seat and wait until your cat uses it. Then, wait some more, because you want your cat to get used to it. If your kitty doesn’t have a problem urinating and defecating at this altitude, get ready to put its litter box away.
At first, you can only replace it with a training kit of some sort. After a while, your kitty will be ready to do its business directly in the toilet. Remember to give your pet a treat whenever it accomplishes this task. This way, it will relate using the toilet with positive emotions, and its overall behavior will be better.
But what about flushing? You should know that it is possible to teach your cat to flush, too. However, some cats like it a bit too much. As a result, you may end up with unpleasantly high water bills.